Saturday, August 28, 2010

Greetings/First Review: Zombie Films

Why hello there. Welcome to the place where I can freely talk about things that I randomly come across or have usually felt passionate about but haven't publicly expressed in a review. To start, I think I'll hop right in to what scares the shit out of me most: Zombies.

For as long as human record has listed, there have been stories, tales and fears of the undead. Ghost, demons, or otherworldly incidents were common among those who truly believed that those who had once lived continued to roam the earth to haunt or contact the living. Mixed with this fear that most of us share, there is another fear that is taboo, and to us that don't practice the methods, we find it grotesque and odd: cannibalism. A misunderstood way of life which people tend to have a particularly morbid curiosity about, cannibalism entails the consumption of a same-species being, whether it's for survival or sexual preferences. That's right, some people get off on eating others.

Combining these two horrors together gives us what many, if not all, would call a "zombie." Technically, a zombie is a mindless being that is driven through either a parasite or hypnosis, and is often associated with unexplainable, cannibalistic aggression. If that's not bad enough, if you're bitten by a zombie, you become one shortly thereafter. Through this process, it's a continuous chain reaction that spreads until all humans are infected. It's a pretty complex structure which many film makers, authors and monster-lovers have built upon ever since its first recordings, around the 1920's. Among these artists of horror, there is one in particular whose name stands out like a billboard: George A. Romero.

George has made many films about zombies and the way the living deal with them. Partly the terror is within ourselves. Greed and fear drive some humans to stay alive longer than the others, which is disruptive and often times the worst choice you can make. Romero's films are horror films just as much as they are political. In one of the most notable films of his, "Dawn of the Dead," created in 1978, there is a message he tries to convey about how we're all zombies in shopping centers. In all of his films, he holds no boundaries as to how graphic some scenes can be. When a person is being eaten alive, you can't help but feel uncomfortable, considering the effects are so realistic and believable. I won't go much into the plot of his films, because I mainly want to mention the similarities between all of them.

It's hard to point out the bad spots in things you really enjoy, but I can't help but feel that whenever I watch a Romero film, I could have sworn I've seen it before. The truth is, many zombies are very, very similar to each other. It's typically an unexplained sickness that plagues the world, and the movie follows a group of people who fight to stay alive. They end up secluding themselves in a place where they can hold off the hordes, but while they're stuck in the make-shift shelters, the group has internal quarrels that prevents them from going any further. Then there's a quick scare moment where a zombie pops up out of nowhere and tries to eat them. The movies are mainly there for the entertainment value, but sometimes I have to enjoy the plot more than the action. I get pretty tired of seeing people arguing over the same issues, like sharing food or pointing out each other's flaws, and I can usually figure out when a zombie's about to come into frame. After seeing as many of these films as I have, you get accustomed to some of the freak-out moments.

Another thing I'm particularly not fond of: Sometimes Romero's messages and political standpoints are too evident and don't give you enough time to think about them. He really likes to stress the point that our government abandons us when they're threatened, which is commonly stated by... everyone who dislikes the government. It's also a hint that if the people overwhelm the people in charge, they lose their power and are forced to change their policies based on current events. A harsh way to learn that lesson, but when you're in danger of being eaten alive, wouldn't you have to break a few laws in order to survive?

That's all I can really think to say about the films for now. Like I said, it's hard to look for all the negatives when you enjoy so much of the genre. If you haven't seen a good zombie film, look into the past before searching for the newer ones. My personal favorite is "Day of the Dead" made in 1985, so when Halloween comes around, you've got something to scare the candy out of your system.

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